The first customer I sent ‘Hummelo’ home with, left the garden center with serious skepticism written all over her face. The plant looked nice and was super healthy. But despite the clean, bright green foliage, it was somewhat lacking from a retail standpoint. Needless to say, she took it home and was calling me the following spring to order more. So what seemingly underwhelming plant became her favorite and also became the Perennial Plant Association’s 2019 Perennial Plant of the Year®?
Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’
Let me introduce you to ‘Hummelo’.
Bright green foliage with scallop-edged, oblong leaves forms a low mass that will spread slowly. Stealing the show in mid-summer are the rosy-lavender spikes of flowers that rise above the clean foliage.
Topping out at 1.5 to 2 feet, this brilliant perennial works best standing to attention at the front of a border.
A Bit of History
‘Hummelo’ was introduced by German grower Ernst Pagels in the late ’90s. The plant name pays homage to his nursery and home in Hummelo, Netherlands.
The word “hummel” also means bumblebee in German, which is rather appropriate considering bees LOVE this plant!
It’s All About Family
You may recognize the name Stachys. You’re possibly thinking, eh, Lamb’s Ear.
But this isn’t the Lamb’s Ear that you’re thinking and it’s certainly not ‘eh’.
There are an estimated 300 to 400 species within the genus Stachys – we’re talking HUGE family. The Lamb’s Ear that typically comes to mind, with its wooly, silver foliage, is just one of the many species of Stachys (S. byzantina).
‘Hummelo’ however, is more like the cousin that you actually want to see at the family reunion. It is typically sold as Stachys monieri although many resources refer to it as officianlis with some listing it as pradica.
Although the nomenclature can get a bit confusing, the real reason we’re here is for this super tough, bee-friendly, and all around spectacular plant. And, regardless of what you call it, it is undeniably spectacular!
Why is ‘Hummelo’ Plant of the Year® Worthy?
According to the Perennial Plant Association website, “Nominations generally need to satisfy the following criteria:
- Suitability for a wide range of climatic conditions.
- Low-maintenance requirements.
- Relative pest and disease resistance.
- Ready availability in the year of promotion.
- Multiple seasons of ornamental interest.”
From my personal experience with this plant and from customers who have planted it at their home? I can firmly say yes to all of these checkpoints and then some!
It’s Extremely Versatile
‘Hummelo’ works wonderfully in full sun pollinator gardens. But the clean foliage also lends itself nicely to formal, estate gardens or front landscape plantings. This stunner doesn’t box itself into one set category.
All it requires from you is full sun to mostly sun and well-drained soil. That’s it.
This Stachys didn’t get picked as the highest rated Stachys by the Chicago Botanic Garden Evaluation Trials for nothing!
Though ‘Hummelo’ may be a bit of a sleeper at the garden center in spring, don’t walk by it! Its spectacular summer show will absolutely stun you!